Recent Studies Describing Porn or Sex Addiction Rates

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Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men (2016)

Computers in Human Behavior

Volume 56, March 2016, Pages 257–266

COMMENTS: This Belgian study (Leuven) found that 27.6% of subjects who had used porn in the last 3 months self-assessed their online sexual activities as problematic. An excerpt:

The proportion of participants who reported experiencing concerns regarding their involvement in OSAs was 27.6% and of these, 33.9% reported that they had already thought to ask for help for OSA use.


Cybersex Addiction Among College Students: A Prevalence Study (2017)

Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity Pages 1-11 | Published online: 28 Mar 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720162.2017.1287612

Amanda L. Giordano & Craig S. Cashwell

COMMENTS: In a cross-disciplinary survey of students (avg. age 23), 10.3% scored in the clinical range for cybersex addiction (19% of men and 4% of women). It's important to note that this survey did not limit its participants to porn users. (Two other recent studies on rates of porn addiction limited their sample to subjects who had used porn at least once in the last 3 months or 6 months. Both studies reported addiction/problematic porn use rates of ~28%.)


Clinical Characteristics of Men Interested in Seeking Treatment for Use of Pornography (2016)

J Behav Addict. 2016 Jun;5(2):169-78. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.036.

Kraus SW1,2,3, Martino S2,3, Potenza MN3,4.

COMMENTS: A study on men over 18 who had viewed pornography at least once in the last 6 months. The study reported that 28% of men scored at (or above) the cutoff for possible hypersexual disorder.


Masturbation and Pornography Use Among Coupled Heterosexual Men With Decreased Sexual Desire: How Many Roles of Masturbation? (2015)

J Sex Marital Ther. 2015;41(6):626-35. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2014.958790.

Frequent porn was related with decreased sexual desire and low relationship intimacy. Excerpts:

Analyses were carried out on a subset of 596 men with decreased sexual desire (mean age = 40.2 years) who were recruited as part of a large online study on male sexual health in 3 European countries. A majority of the participants (67%) reported masturbating at least once a week.

Among men who masturbated frequently, 70% used pornography at least once a week. A multivariate assessment showed that sexual boredom, frequent pornography use, and low relationship intimacy significantly increased the odds of reporting frequent masturbation among coupled men with decreased sexual desire.

Among men [with decreased sexual desire] who used pornography at least once a week [in 2011], 26.1% reported that they were unable to control their pornography use. In addition, 26.7% of men reported that their use of pornography negatively affected their partnered sex.

COMMENTS: Stats were for a subset of men with decreased sexual desire: 26.1% reported that they were unable to control their pornography use


Co-occurring substance-related and behavioral addiction problems: A person-centered, lay epidemiology approach (2016)

J Behav Addict. 2016 Dec;5(4):614-622. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.079.

Background and aims: The aims of this study were (a) to describe the prevalence of single versus multiple addiction problems in a large representative sample and (b) to identify distinct subgroups of people experiencing substance-related and behavioral addiction problems.

Methods: A random sample of 6,000 respondents from Alberta, Canada, completed survey items assessing self-attributed problems experienced in the past year with four substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine) and six behaviors (gambling, eating, shopping, sex, video gaming, and work). Hierarchical cluster analyses were used to classify patterns of co-occurring addiction problems on an analytic subsample of 2,728 respondents (1,696 women and 1032 men; Mage = 45.1 years, SDage = 13.5 years) who reported problems with one or more of the addictive behaviors in the previous year.

Results: In the total sample, 49.2% of the respondents reported zero, 29.8% reported one, 13.1% reported two, and 7.9% reported three or more addiction problems in the previous year. Cluster-analytic results suggested a 7-group solution.

COMMENTS: This study assessed the self-reported rates of substance and behavioral addictions in a representative sample of Canadians. It's important to note that self assessment would tend to under report addiction rates. The findings: about 4.8% thought they had a "sex addiction" (in reality, 9.5% of the group that had at least one addiction thought their primary addiction was porn or sex). The excerpt describing addiction rates:

Classifying co-occurring addiction problems

The results of the cluster analysis suggested a seven-cluster solution. As shown in Table 5, the first cluster (26.0% of the sample used when conducting the clustering) represented individuals with smoking as their shared problem behavior. The second cluster (21.8%) consisted of participants reporting excessive eating as their only problem behavior. The third cluster (16.2%) represented individuals with work problems, while the fourth cluster (13.0%) consisted of participants characterized by a large number of different addiction problems without a clearly dominant behavior. The fifth cluster (9.5%) represented mainly individuals reporting excessive sexual behavior, while the sixth (8.9%) and seventh (4.7%) clusters consisted of participants with shopping and video gaming as their shared behavioral problem, respectively. Highest average number of past-year addictive behaviors was observed among excessive video game players (Cluster VII), while the lowest was found among excessive eaters (Cluster II). Detailed information on the addiction characteristics of each cluster are described in Table 5.

A few possible reasons why the rate wasn't higher:

  • The average age was 44
  • Only 38% of the subjects were males
  • The survey was done in 2009
  • Most porn users fail to recognize the negative effects related to their porn use or that the signs and symptoms of an addiction

 

A Profile of Pornography Users in Australia: Findings From the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships (2016)

COMMENTS: Some claim this study supports the argument that Internet porn doesn't really cause serious problems. For example, only 4% of the men felt they were addicted to porn. There are reasons to take the headlines with a grain of salt.

Check out the study's conclusion:

Looking at pornographic material appears to be reasonably common in Australia, with adverse effects reported by a small minority.

However, for participants aged 16-30, it's not such a small minority. According to Table 5 in the study, 17% of this age group reported that using pornography had a bad effect on them. (In contrast, among people 60-69, only 7.2% thought  porn had a bad effect.)

How different would the headlines from this study have been if the authors had emphasized their finding that nearly 1 in 5 young people believed that porn use had a "bad effect on them"? Why did they attempt to downplay this  finding by ignoring it and focusing on cross-sectional results - rather than the group most at risk for internet problems?

A few caveats about this study:

  1. This was a cross-sectional representative study spanning age groups 16-69, males and females. It's well established that young men are the primary users of internet porn. So, 25% of the men and 60% of the women had not viewed porn at least once in the last 12 months. Thus the statistics gathered minimize the problem by veiling the at-risk users.
  2. The single question, which asked participants if they had used porn in the last 12 months, doesn't meaningfully quantify porn use. For example, a person who bumped into a porn site pop-up is considered no different from someone who masturbates 3 times a day to hardcore porn.
  3. However, when the survey enquired of those who "had ever viewed porn" which ones had viewed porn in the past year, the highest percentage was the teen group. 93.4% of them had viewed in the last year, with 20-29 year olds just behind them at 88.6.
  4. Data was gathered between October 2012 and November 2013. Things have changed a lot in the last 4 years, thanks to smartphone penetration - especially in yournger users.
  5. Questions were asked in computer-assisted telephone interviews. It's human nature to be more forthcoming in completely anonymous interviews, especially when interviews are about sensitive subjects such as porn use and porn addiction.
  6. The questions are based purely upon self-perception. Keep in mind that addicts rarely see themselves as addicted. In fact, most internet porn users are unlikely to connect their symptoms to porn use unless they quit for an extended period.
  7. The study did not employ standardized questionnaires (given anonymously), which would more accurately have assessed both porn addiction and porn's effects on the users.

Once again, few regular porn users realize how porn has affected them until well after they cease using. Often ex-users need several months to fully recognize the negative effects. Thus, a study like this one has major limitations.


 

Technology addiction among treatment seekers for psychological problems: implication for screening in mental health setting (2017)

The mean age of the sample was 26.67 with the standard deviation of 6.5. The age distribution was 16 years to 40 years. The sample had 45 males (60%) and 30 females (40%). 17 were married (22.67%), 57 were unmarried (76%), and 1 was divorced (1.33%). All the subjects had 10 and more year of education. 36% were from the rural area and the 64% were from the urban area.

In Table 3, Type of Addiction, Pornography Addiction was as follows:

  • Proness to addiction: 8%
  • High risk to addiction: 6.7%
  • Addicted to pornography: 4%